ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court has issued pre-admission notices to Secretaries of Law, Foreign Affairs and Finance in a petition seeking details of expenditures incurred on legal remunerations in Dr Aafia Siddiqui trial in USA

Talking to The Nation here on Friday, petitioners’ counsel told that a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition moved by Chaudhary Hassan Sarfraz Bhalli and Muhammad Azam Minhas and issued the notices to the respondents in this matter.

He added that petitioners moved the petition through their counsel Barrister Dawood Pervez and cited government of Pakistan through secretary ministry of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, secretary Foreign Affairs, secretary Finance and Auditor General of Pakistan, through Additional Auditor General, Pakistan as respondents.

 They stated in their petition that they wrote letters of request dated 24 September 2018 to Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign office for access to information including public disclosure of budget allocation and detailed expenditure of financial transactions of Pakistan embassy to Washington DC from year 2008-2011, minute detail of expenditures incurred upon legal remunerations in Dr Aafia Siddiqui trial in USA, detail of budget allocated for legal remuneration, plus receipts of approved quotations of funds and details of funds released for defense counsels contesting the Dr Aafia Siddiqui trial in USA.

The petitioners added that they requested access to this information under Right of Access to Information Act 2017.

They informed the court that on May 23, 2018, Pakistan Counsel General Houston, Aisha Farooqui made consular visit to Dr Aafia Siddiqui in FMC Carswell, prison, Texas and a report was formulated after the meeting and became public under named “A detailed report of the meeting of Consular visit to FMC Careswell to meet Dr Aafia Siddiqui on 23rd May 2018”.

They maintained that on page 7 of the report, Dr Aafia Siddiqui has made an allegation as, “She accused a certain Asif Hussain PA to former Ambassador Haqqani of siphoning off the $2 million allocated by the Government of Pakistan for her trial in 2010. She stated that this was public money of the people of Pakistan but had been taken by Asif Hussain and possibly Ambassador Hussain Haqqani also who she described as unhelpful and not at all interested in helping her case”.

They informed the court that at in 2010, a report submitted by ministry of foreign affairs to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Affairs revealed Dr Aafia Siddiqui Attorney Trust Account and misappropriation in it.

“The report continued to say that the Ambassador to Pakistan Hussain Haqqani formed a committee of three officers to ensure transparency and monitor the expenditure of the Attorney’s Trust Account. The committee directed Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to conduct an internal audit of the money spent on the legal team and submit its detailed report at the next meeting. The report never came public,” said the petition.

They added that the report and audit investigation had been stopped at the time and never came public.

Therefore, they prayed to the court to direct the respondents to provide paper book document of budget allocation and detailed expenditure of financial transactions of Pakistan embassy to Washington DC from year 2008-2011, provide minute detail of expenditures incurred upon legal remunerations in Dr Aafia Siddiqui trial in USA and provide detail of budget allocated for legal remuneration, plus receipts of approved quotations of funds.

They also requested to provide details of funds released for defence counsels contesting the Dr Aafia Siddiqui trial in USA and provide a report submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dr Aafia Siddiqui Attorney Trust Account and an audit report on it.